We are all migrants

Image: Lars Englund


Poem in six movements


in two, three, four acts
or as many as necessary
to arouse indignation
ignite consciousness

why enslave others?
why ignore the other?
why segregate the other?
when he is hungry
right next door
and we have a full belly
just the belly button


each one of us and the nodes of the world
from ice to desert, to the sea, to the mountain
shy or outburst
but we need to see better
who selfishly despise
we commit around


my skin is white
and was once black
my skin is red
and was once black
my skin is yellow
and was once black
my skin is gray
and was once black
my skin is brown
and was once black
my skin is skin
and was once black
So what color am I?
and who gave it to me
this epidermal power
that slips between your fingers
without any basis?

my skin is black, it has always been black
and because I'm black, someone told me
who had rights over her
as if it were possible, just by having bones,
someone owns a skeleton
that wasn't yours

as if it were possible for someone to own me
just because they condemn where I came from
just because they enslaved me
Doesn't mean I'm a slave
That's why I rebel and scream: who are you?
who claims to be the owner of the world
and you think it includes me
in your feudal rot?

Under my skin, I keep a skeleton
same as yours: head trunk and limbs
and inside, heart liver stomach lung
and as many intestines as there are destinies
disheveled paths with so many swirls

we all come from the same place
Mother Africa gave birth to us and fed us
so why do you look at me
as if I were an orphan, ruffian?

So if so, so are you!


“I consider myself a human being. If an artist is a human being, then you can also call me an artist. but I'm just a human being. I really don't know if we will have a future. Of course we know we have a past, but I don't know if we have a future. because we hate each other, we separate ourselves from each other, we have crazy ideas, many Nazi ideas, we don't care about other people's tragedies, we don't care about social injustices. why, then, should we have a future?” (Ai Weiwei).

On the Greek island of Lesbos, Ai Weiwei recreates the image of the three-year-old boy Aylan, who drowned in Turkey. Photography by Rohit Chawla.

“Migrants’ boat from ai weiwei, which also takes us.” Exhibition at CCBB, in Belo Horizonte, from February 6th to April 15th, 2019. Photographs: Fernando Rios.

When I see Ai Weiwei's work
I see myself too
I see all human beings
I see past, present, future
because weiwei, even though I don't believe it
weaves strong warp webs
weaves networks of strong threads
weaves affection, tenderness, hopes
weave your own good humanity
and, contrary to what he proclaims,
helps weave our human age
offers us a good side
that builds brotherhood and peace


each of us faces our own private world
inside the world of this world the size of the world
that drummond world, if my name was raimundo...
but you are tough, raimundo... or would it be josé... buddha... christ... mohammed...

we are all migrants, we have a beginning, middle and end,
We don't always choose navigation, I need a person
almost always an inaccuracy almost always very personal

we are all migrants, migrants of ourselves
we are born the same way, we die the same way
but we want to live separately, each on our own side

we all have the same African mother with hips and uterus
we have heads, torsos, limbs and a skin
we have the same naked skeleton with the same fingerprint

We know we're coming, we know we're coming
day and night, endless toil, work, hours of driving
cold food in the lunchbox, waiting for a warm body in the finite night
We are all always coming and going, not knowing where to where

we are all migrants, hour to hour, day to day,
This path also has contentment, euphoria,
but there is also the painful calm
which leads to violent seas populated by brave souls

we are all migrants, both when we go and when we come
immigrants on the journey of hope and plans for the future
in the comings of hopelessness and construction of a dark present

We are all migrants, trapped in the same manumission, in search of freedom
to live any passion, to love without war, to live a life of harmony
but someone tells me that it takes more than work
that you need to consume every last penny to be happy and content
no matter how much it has to do with irrational and sick selfishness

We are khôra outside and inside the polis, our pores breathe falsehood
Are we under the yoke of the eternal mania for profit and advantage?
}where do we deposit our tenderness? in which bank account?
How much does this investment yield?
it seems like nothing, it seems like it disappears
and we become cloistered in the sameness of television screens
or on the unknown screens of cellular selfishness
that distance us from reality, or make us lonely parasites


To whom do we offer our affection, to whom do we give our affection?
To what humanity do we contribute?
This procession takes us to a baptism
or is it just a dark grave/wake?

It's time to end the chatter and mix skins with skins
voices with voices, and take off the carcass/armor
that hides possible candors and affections

nude we are more equal even with informal colors
We have the same hunger to love, to eat, to live
together we can make and remake our becoming

we, migrants from all over the world, can unite
choose a good boat and a safe port
and together with an affectionate supportive companion friend
Without hesitation, build and move towards a good destination

*Fernando Rios is a journalist, poet and artist.

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